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Finding Potential Problems in the Thesis Process in Higher Education: Analysis of e-mails to develop a support system
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2015 (English)In: Education and Information Technologies: Official Journal of the IFIP technical committee on Education, ISSN 1360-2357, E-ISSN 1573-7608, Vol. 20, no 1, 21-36 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Autonomous learning hype has created much speculation in educational systems regarding how to develop the learning process. Final project (thesis) in Bachelor’s and Master’s levels is a significant part of study for students in higher education. However, there are some problems, which lead students not managing to do or finish their thesis. As a part of a solution to these problems, the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University, Sweden, has established an information and communication platform, called SciPro. The system was initiated in 2011 to support students and supervisors during the thesis process courses. This study contributes by exploring problems that learners have faced during the final project courses and analyzing discussed issues in the emails, sent to the SciPro support group, ThesisSupport. A random sample of one hundred emails has been analyzed with the help of a content analysis tool, in order to develop the categories, which cover the discussed issues. The result of the study shows six exhaustive and mutually exclusive categories of problems: 1) Thesis initiation (26 %), 2) Info-mail (4.7 %), 3) Technical issues (17.1 %), 4) Exemption (18.7 %), 5) Supervision (17.1 %), 6) Final seminar (16.4 %). Consequently, based on the significance of the categories, two groups of strategic suggestions are developed: 1) developing communications and 2) developing instructions. These strategies intend to enhance support for the autonomous learning process for the thesis courses in higher education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 20, no 1, 21-36 p.
Keyword [en]
SciPro, Idea-bank, Thesis process, Learning process, Autonomous learning, Communication platform
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96349DOI: 10.1007/s10639-013-9262-zOAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-96349DiVA: diva2:665494
Available from: 2013-11-20 Created: 2013-11-20 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Usefulness of ICT Support Systems for Thesis Courses: Learners' Perspectives at Bachelor and Master Level
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Usefulness of ICT Support Systems for Thesis Courses: Learners' Perspectives at Bachelor and Master Level
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Doing a bachelor’s or master’s degree is a journey that leads to success or attrition (dropout). Previous research show to the significance of considering learners’ perspectives and their need for information and different types of interaction. This can be done through online ICTSS (information and communication technology support systems). The overall aim of this dissertation was to create knowledge about how the use of ICTSS can facilitate different types of interaction and support learners in order to reduce thesis problems and attrition and to enhance the quality of the thesis outcomes. The aim was operationalized by two research questions scrutinizing the interaction problems in the thesis process and investigating how the use of ICTSS can facilitate different types of interaction to reduce such problems and attrition, and to enhance the learning opportunities and quality of the thesis outcomes. To answer the research questions, five main studies were performed by applying different research methods on a case study. The empirical studies were performed at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV) at Stockholm University, Sweden. The respondents were different learners (students) with active thesis projects at the bachelor or master level in different programs at DSV between 2012 and 2015. For the first two studies, conceptual and content analysis of the data collected from the case study was performed. For the three other studies, open-ended online questionnaires (survey) and interviews were conducted. On the basis of the findings, three main types of interaction issues were developed which related to the need for more learner-content, peer-to-peer, and learner-supervisor interaction in the thesis process. The hypothesis was that the interaction issues could be reduced by implementing a set of strategic suggestions through the use of an ICTSS including a set of functionalities and resources. The usefulness of these functionalities and resources was evaluated with regard to the learners’ perception and experiences. The findings were categorized to facilitate learner-content, peer-to-peer, and learner-supervisor interaction, as well as management of the contents, supervision, and communication of the supervisory team. From these categories, a conceptual framework was developed in this dissertation to illustrate how the use of the ICTSS supports the thesis process. In conclusion, providing access to a set of structured e-resources and supporting educational communication through different types of interaction with peers and the supervisory team, enables learners’ self-managed learning and facilitates similar learning opportunities for learners in thesis courses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2015
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 15-022
Keyword
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Support System, interaction, thesis, self-managed learning
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122646 (URN)978-91-7649-308-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-18, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-26 Created: 2015-11-05 Last updated: 2015-11-19Bibliographically approved

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